13th January, 2016
Jeremy’s sizeable mandate, Trident renewal and leadership
It seems that not a day passes without someone mentioning the M word. No not Momentum; I am talking about mandate. Jeremy has, it is said, ‘a huge mandate’. It must be true because Diane Abbott talks about it all the time.
If a journalist says during any interview: “the Labour Party is divided. The PLP doesn’t support the leader…” before we get to the question she prods the air with her finger and informs the world “people have to realise Jeremy has a huge mandate, the biggest a Labour leader has ever had”.
Ask the current city minister Corbyn fanboy Richard Burgon about anything and he will reply “Jeremy has a huge mandate”, before adding, “an anti austerity mandate!” as though that is the answer to everything. You can see his eyes widen, almost dance in triumph. He has won. He has mentioned mandate. That is all he has to do!
Well, someone has to remind the leadership that their mandate wasn’t actually a mandate to tear up the rule book. It wasn’t a mandate to scrap Trident. It wasn’t a mandate to give the Falklands to Argentina. And it certainly wasn’t a mandate to allow Ken Livingstone to blame the last Labour Government for the London bombings. And it wasn’t a mandate to suggest that the brutal murders in France were anything other than the product of sick, barbaric minds.
Sir Paul Kenny from the GMB hit the nail on the head when he said: “I don’t remember recalling any speech anywhere where someone said, ‘I’m standing on a platform that I will do what I want, when I want, irrespective of what the rules of the Labour party are.” More of that can be found here.
And while we are talking about Mandates, remind me about Abbott’s, McDonnell’s and Corbyn’s respect for Tony Blair’s mandate. It appears that not all mandates are equal.
But harping on about the glory days won’t solve our current problems. Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership election. He is the leader of the Labour Party and that is that. I am sure that if there was another leadership contest tomorrow, under the same rules he would win again. Why? The loss of many long-standing members who drifted away, turned off by the far left approach of Jeremy and his gang and of course the £3 rent-a-vote crowd haven’t moved on.
So I don’t think there can or should be a challenge yet. I agree he is slowly wrecking the Party I love but apart from bedding down and waiting there is nothing I can do; for to strike too early would see him elected again.
People talk about fancy, clever manoeuvres to bring him down. They say the PLP should select their own parliamentary leader. But there is a problem with that. They would soon have that huge mandate rammed down their throats. The party as an organisation would have to act against them. Sure, it would be an interesting constitutional crisis but the mandate man would win. The party would never recover and a split would be inevitable. A split that would set the Labour movement back 100 years.
Let me explain. I understand what Jeremy’s sizeable mandate is. It isn’t actually a mandate. Look at the latest wheeze from Billy Bragg – a series of ‘Corbyn For PM’ concerts, a bit like Red Wedge without the talent. But look again – not a mention of the Labour Party… it is all about Jeremy. In short he doesn’t have a mandate – he has a Cult. And like all cults many of the followers don’t understand the nasty stuff at the core. For every Ethel holding a bring and buy sale to raise funds for the local food-bank there is a Jon Lansman dreaming of a union with Putin. For every Jimmy dreaming about a world of peace there is a Max Shanley bullying and shouting down dissenters.
The sad thing is during our years in government we accepted them. We looked at them but didn’t move against them. We were too kind. But the Cult isn’t kind. It isn’t cuddly and they want a fight. Our problem is working out when?
We can win small battles. We can succeed in keeping renewal of Trident as party policy. But we won’t win many elections.
To those thinking of throwing in the towel, think of this: we have Dugher, McFadden and Benn; the Cult have Abbott, Burgon and McDonnell. Think about that for a while and that mandate doesn’t look very big at all.
The Cult has a leader who is unwilling to address his PLP to avoid confrontation. A leader not willing to explain his reshuffle or his plan is no leader at all. Regardless of the size of his mandate eventually his lack of leadership will be exposed and when that happens the Cult will begin to crumble.
So if not now, when? My guess is that in May we will win the London Mayoralty. We will slip slightly in Wales. A few surprises but still under-perform in Scotland, and in England we will lose some very good councillors and probably a few councils.
The EU referendum will come and go. I think the UK will remain in and then we have party conference which will be a very moody and acrimonious place. Trident renewal and other debates will dominate but Corbyn will come away battered and bruised.
In 2017 with the Cult rank and file starting to have doubts then we can start to rebuild and save the Party and start to plan for the real fight against a Tory Party without Cameron.
But until then we have a job to do and that job is part of being Labour. We have councillors and councils to defend. In Wales and Scotland we face tough elections. In London we need Sadiq as Mayor.
We need to continue to campaign, canvass and fight in every seat. Not because of or for Corbyn, but because we are Labour. And Labour is bigger than any mythical mandate Diane Abbott screams about!
By Barnabus Howard
Please note: articles and posts on ‘Middle Vision’ reflect the views of the individual authors and not of all involved in ‘Middle Vision’
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